Early this month, I was having a conversation about guest posting with a friend of mine. This is a topic I have personally been examining over the last year, so when he asserted that “guest posting is dead,” I had to voice my opposition.
I do, however, think that guest posting expectations bloggers have are sometimes a bit out of whack. Guest posting isn’t dead any more than blogging itself is dead, but the way some bloggers go about guest posting is certainly putting it on life support.
(If you’re new to guest posting, you might want to check out our five-part series on guest posting, which will help you write better posts and place these posts on great blogs, as well as our beginner’s guide to guest posting.)
Guest Posting the Wrong Way
Guest posting started as a simple theory: if you write a free post for another blogger and his/her readers like it, they’ll come back to your blog via the link at the end of your post and become a member of your community as well.
I can tell you from tons of personal experience that this doesn’t usually happen, at least, not at a rate that makes your hard work worthwhile.
Even if you write a guest post for a well-known, popular blogger, that traffic isn’t going to translate. Readers are fans of certain blogs because they like that specific blogger. You’re someone new, unknown, not to be trusted. A small percentage of people who read your post – even if they like it – will actually click the link in your bio, and an even smaller percentage will actually become long-term readers on your blog.
If you go into guest posting with the expectation that you’re going to get tons of traffic and new readers to your own blog, you’re likely going to be sorely disappointed.
Guest Posting = Branding, Not Immediate Traffic
I still recommend guest posting, however, because if you do it properly, you can end up with tons of new readers. It’s about being strategic.
Guest posting is about branding. You want your name to suddenly start popping up everywhere so people start to recognize it. If you write a one-time guest post on another site, you might get a few curious readers coming to your own blog, but if the same readers start to see your name everywhere, they’re going to start to wonder who you are, and if they like your content, they’re going to end up on your blog sooner or later.
So, think about guest posts in terms of groups of posts going out over the course of a week, not just single posts here or there. Immediate traffic shouldn’t be the goal; you’ll see traffic over time as name recognition builds.
Guest Posting for SEO
Guest posts are also great for SEO purposes. You do have to be careful about putting too much stock into a single type of link-building, since Google is constantly changing, but having your link without a post on a popular blog can help your search engine standings. Even better than linking back to your homepage in the bio is to link to specific posts relevant about the topic within the guest post you write. Don’t overdo it or your host will likely turn down the post, but definitely link to posts on your blog when relevant and helpful to the reader.
Relationship Building with Guest Posts
My favorite reason to guest post is to build relationships with other bloggers. If you offer a well-written, interesting guest post for another blogger, you’re giving them free content that they can’t get anywhere else. It’s a great way to get on someone’s radar. Often, I’ve guest posted for someone and they’ve gone on to become a long-term reader of my blog, even though they had previously never heard of me (or just knew me as one of the bajillon commenters on their site). Relationships with other bloggers in your niche are invaluable.
At the end of the day, guest posting is simply about managing your expectations. If you are looking for massive traffic numbers, especially right away, this is not an technique worth your time. If you’re taking a more “slow and steady wins the race” approach to blogging and interested in benefits other than traffic, guest posting is definitely a great blog-building technique to add to your promotional activities.
Interested in getting the most out of a guest post – or really any post you write on any blog? Jon Morrow is coming to NMX Las Vegas this January to present a session on the Anatomy of a 100,000 Visitor Post. You don’t want to miss this one!